Author Notes: This braised brisket lends itself to many different occasions from a weeknight dinner to a casual get together with friends. Your job is to brown the meat, throw in some onions and garlic and then cover it with beer and chili sauce. Everything else happens without you in the oven. Cooked low and slow, the brisket becomes pull-apart tender while the liquids mix with the meat's melted fat to make a great sauce. Serve it topped with Crema Mexicana and pico de gallo with rice on the side. As an added bonus, you can make this up to two days ahead.
Note: Where the recipe calls for chili sauce, you should decide if you prefer something a little sweet and mild vs. eye-watering spicey. There is no heat index on a bottle of chili sauce. You should know your brands before buying. I leave it to you to chose. Most people will prefer the mild-tasting Heinz Chili Sauce. No one will judge you and, besides, the brisket is topped with pico de gallo which will add some heat. For those who like their food hotter, try Crystal Hot Sauce, Tabasco or the like. (I personally like Crystal. It is has a kick, but your eyes won't water.)
brisket, 5-7 lbs, fat trimmed to about 1/2 inch
teaspoons kosher salt
teaspoon ground black pepper
tablespoons olive oil
cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
large onions, quartered
(12 ounce) bottle chili sauce
ounces dark beer
pico de gallo, for serving (1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, 1 lb. finely chopped tomatoes, 1 stemmed and seeded jalapeno finely chopped and 1 Tbsp lime juice mixed then seasoned with salt to taste)
Crema Mexicana, for serving
- PREP: Let the brisket sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours. Preheat the oven to 325. Season the brisket all over with kosher salt and pepper. Place a heavy roasting pan or Dutch oven over 2 burners and add olive oil. Heat the oil over MEDIUM HIGH to HIGH heat. When hot, add the brisket, fat side down to the pan. Brown it to deep brown on both sides, about 8 minutes per side. Turn off the burners. Scatter the garlic, onions, and celery around the meat. Pour the beer into the pan around the meat and the chili sauce over the top of the meat.
- BRAISE: Turn the burners back on to HIGH heat and bring the liquids to a boil. Boil the liquids 2-3 minutes to reduce just a bit and then turn off the heat. Add enough water to the pan so that liquid comes to the top of the meat but does not cover it. Cover the roasting pan tightly with a lid or foil. Place the pan into the oven and cook until the meat is so tender that it can be pulled apart with a fork, 4-6 hours depending on the size of the brisket.
- FINISHING THE SAUCE: Remove the brisket to a cutting board. Thinly slice the meat and place it in an oven-proof dish. Strain the solids from the liquid in the pan and discard. Skim the fat from the sauce. Note: This is the best place to pause if you are cooking a day in advance. Just cover and refrigerate everything. Tip: It is easier to remove the fat from chilled liquid than hot.
- SERVE: Pour about 1 cup or so of the fat-skimmed gravy over the pan of sliced brisket and heat, covered, in a 325 degree oven until warm. Heat the rest of the sauce on the stove. Serve slices of brisket with a generous amount of sauce; drizzle the top with Crema Mexicana and top with pico de gallo.